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Sunday, 21 November 2010

TBC: Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey

As you're probably quite aware, I love hockey history and quirky facts from the fastest team game known to man. There are lots of places to find these tidbits of information, but it's always handy to have a book full of interesting anecdotes and quips about the game of hockey. Admittedly, I could probably sit and read a book of historical and interesting hockey facts for hours. Because of that, Teebz's Book Club is proud to present Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey, written by Brian McFarlane and published by HB Fenn and Company. Peter Puck, the "Poke-Check Professor", takes a front-and-center role in presenting some historical, unusual, and interesting stories from the game of hockey, and it's this look at hockey through the eyes of the affable Peter Puck that we get Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey.

Brian McFarlane, the son of Hardy Boys author Leslie McFarlane, was working for NBC in the early 1970s. The Canadian sportscaster and author was asked by his boss at NBC to come up with a way to educate people in hockey. McFarlane's idea was Peter Puck, although the name was created by Joe Barbera, president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Studios who helped create the look of Peter Puck.

"When I was with NBC in 1973, my boss, Scotty Connell, decided that our intermission features needed to be more instructional in nature," McFarlane said. "He called Joe Barbera out at Hanna-Barbera, and said, 'We need a little animated character to describe hockey.' They asked me to send Hanna-Barbera some of my literature on hockey, some of my books, and describe what an offside is and icing and that sort of thing."

Now that you know how Brian McFarlane and Peter Puck came to be, Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey, voiced by Peter Puck, contains a lot of information broken into distinct chapters:

  • Love That Hockey History! - all about hockey's beginnings.
  • The NHL's Fascinating Past - all about the NHL's history.
  • Those Cool, Courageous Goalies - all about goaltenders.
  • Getting An Early Start - all about youth and young hockey players.
  • Women Love Hockey, Too - all about the fairer sex in hockey.
  • Stanley Cup Facts and Follies - all about the big, silver trophy.
  • Some Fabulous Hockey Records... and a Few Less Memorable Ones - all about hockey records.
  • When Coaches Lose Their Cool - all about coaches.
  • Some of My Personal Favorites - all about Peter Puck's favorite facts.
  • Remember the WHA? - all about the WHA.
  • About the Game Officials - all about officials.
  • Hockey Here and There - all about facts and stories from random hockey locations.
  • What More Can I Say? - all about random hockey facts.
Needless to say, there is a wide range of hockey information contained on the 222 pages that Peter Puck has voiced. The facts that are presented are a variety: there are some that are known, and some that were completely unknown to me. What Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey does is bring them all together in one place, and present them in an organized fashion.

Do you know who the youngest NHL owner was? Do you know who the first Russian-trained player to score an NHL goal was? What team did he play for? Why was 1989 a significant year for Europeans in the NHL? Do you know who the last goaltender was to play every minute of every game for his team, and what team did he play for? How many women have had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup? All of these questions are answered in this book, and Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey presents it all in short, anecdotal form.

As stated above, there are some relatively well-known facts that are presented in Peter Puck's Big Book of Hockey, but there are a significant amount of facts that were unknown to me. The chapters are broken down into easy-to-read sections, and all progress chronologically so that finding a specific fact is relatively easy to locate. The one thing that this book required was an index for even faster referencing, but it's not that hard to find what you're looking for if you know what you need. Because of Mr. McFarlane's writing and knowledge of the game, this book is a "must-have" for all hockey trivia buffs and amateur hockey historians, and certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval.

As Peter Puck always says, "Love that hockey game!"

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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